3 mega trends driving the Digital Transformation

Which are the three mega revolutionary trends that we are experiencing today and that involve everyone, from individuals, to businesses and institutions? Here’s the answer!

Trend #1: The fusion of atoms with bits

First of all, the Internet of Things (IoT). Today, in fact, boundaries between the physical and the digital world are getting fuzzier and fuzzier: we use refrigerators connected to the Internet, which suggest us recipes and automatically adjust the temperature based on the type and quantity of products contained inside; while going jogging, we wear smart devices that monitor our heart beat in real time; if we have diabetes, a special patch with microsensors measures the sugar level in our blood and warns us when we need to take insulin. We are surrounded by millions and millions (ca. 27 billion in 2019) of objects connected to the Internet that generate billions of billions of data and information.

Internet of Things (IoT) connected devices installed base worldwide
from 2015 to 2025 (in billions, source: statista.com)

Trend #2: Data, data everywhere

And this brings us to the second trend – data. Or better said, big data. Today, everything is becoming data. Every day we produce around 2.5 quintillion bytes of data (that is 1 followed by 30 zeros!). It is such an incredibly large volume, that sometimes it is really difficult to discover the opportunities that lie behind it.

Data Never Sleeps (source: DOMO.com, 2019)

But it is not only the volume of data that characterizes big data, there are two other fundamental aspects that determine its relevance as a megatrend: velocity and variety. Those 2.5 quintillions of bytes produced every day are not static data; they are rather constant flows, which often generate value just within a certain (sometimes even short) timeframe. To be clear, I don’t need to know the sugar level in my blood I had three days ago, I have to know it now, when I need to take the correct dosage of insulin.

Moreover, data is not just numbers, but it has different formats: texts, images, videos. In technical jargon, this type of data represent unstructured data, which differ from structured data in that it is not easy to process because stored without any scheme. And we know pretty well how the value, usefulness and intrinsic power of data depend exactly on the ability to know how to read and understand it in the precise moment it is needed.

Trend #3: 50 shades of Artificial Intelligence

However, to timely and accurately analyze and process the huge amount of data we generate on a daily basis, people are not enough – we need some more help. And here is the factor introducing us to the third mega technological trend, Artificial Intelligence.

Revolutionary tech trends (source: Accenture, 2019)

Generally speaking, Artificial Intelligence is  meant as the technology allowing us to interpret data (structured and unstructured) on a large scale, automatically. But looking deeper inside, AI has many shades, depending on whether all or only some of the functions of the human mind are reproduced.

For instance, we talk about weak AI for describing “simulated” thinking – that is, a system that appears to behave intelligently, but doesn’t have any kind of consciousness about what it is doing (to make it clear, a chatbot is an example of weak AI: it might appear to hold a natural conversation, but it has no real “consciousness” and it doesn’t know why it’s talking to you).

Another type is narrow AI which describes an AI that is limited to a single task or a set number of tasks. For example, the capabilities of IBM’s Deep Blue, the chess-playing computer that beat world champion Gary Kasparov in 1997, were limited to playing chess. It would not have been able to play and win a bridge match. Finally, there are strong AI and superintelligence which both refers to systems that do “actual” thinking: they behave intelligently, think as a human does, with a conscious, subjective mind. 

A chain reaction

Over the past 5 years, the number of systems using this technology has increased exponentially and, as a mega technological trend, the impacts these systems have on our everyday lives have significantly grown. Of course, the higher the level of complexity is, the greater is the impact. In the end, every revolution brings along new changes to face, in particular cultural and social changes. 

This happens because AI is not just about opportunities, but also about important questions related to moral and ethical aspects and in this context, the role of the institutions becomes fundamental to regulate the situation.

Recent guidelines set by the European Commission underline the need to create a strategy at the European level – similarly to what has been done with the GDPR for the protection of personal data – in order to “give a direction” and ensure that Artificial Intelligence applications take into account ethical aspects and are based on a human-centric approach. In other words, to set the boundaries to the development of advanced Artificial Intelligence systems, without however blocking the way to an increasingly digital and automated future.

Full speed ahead!

To sum up: Internet of Things, Big Data and Artificial Intelligence – these are the three mega technological trends that are revolutionizing the world … and in U-Hopper we embrace them all! We started with the IoT and in 2018 we spinoffed a company, ThinkInside, active in the field of analytics for indoor spaces. 

Today in U-Hopper we develop Big Data Analytics and Artificial Intelligence solutions with the aim of supporting companies on their way towards Digital Transformation. To find out more, visit our website or drop us an email to info@u-hopper.com

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